Boy Meets Boy

Page 41


I finish the first letter. I bum an envelope off my guidance counselor and seal the pages inside. Instead of relying on my friends, I deliver it to Noah myself. He seems a little surprised, but not un-receptive. I immediately start the second letter, beginning with the moment I handed him the first letter and what was going through my mind. Suddenly the whole week begins to explain itself—I am telling instead of showing, but that seems okay, since I've already tried to show so much.
I am writing my third letter to Noah in study hall when Kyle sits down across from me. Ever since the cemetery incident, he's dodged me. But now it's clear he wants to talk. I cover the letter I'm writing and say hello.
He's nervous.
“Look,” he says, “I don't want it to be this way again.”
“Neither do I.”
“So what are we going to do?”
I realize at this moment that Kyle is brave, too. I want to be worth his courage.
“We're going to be cool with each other,” I say carefully. “We're going to be friends. And I really mean that. Just because I don't think we'd be good together doesn't mean we have to be apart. Does that make sense?”
Kyle nods. “Yeah.”
“So we're good?”
“The last couple of days I've been talking to Tony. But you probably know that. At first when he called, I thought, what's going on here? It was probably the first time he'd ever called me, except for the times you were over and he was calling for you. I didn't know what to say to him, and he totally understood that. We've been talking a lot now, and the funny thing is that part of me is glad that all this happened, because if I become friends with him and I'm really friends with you, then it's like the good coming out of the bad. And the bad isn't really that bad. I feel silly about the other day. I thought something was there that wasn't. But now maybe I think something's there that's actually there.”
“It is,” I tell him.
I can't let him know that the something he thought wasn't there wasn't entirely not there. I can't tell him that some of my feelings for him will always be unresolved, and that part of the desire to have him back in my life was to disprove all the reasons he left in the first place. I can't point out to him that right now I like him more than I did in the dowager's crypt—even though I'm not liking him in the way that he wanted me to (Noah has the monopoly on that), I am liking him enough to know that a different time and a different place might have led to a different outcome. But since I'm not planning on leaving this time or place anytime soon, it's not a point worth making.
We start talking about the dance some more. Now that the awkwardness has lifted, Kyle's going to start showing up again at our committee and help with the final architecture.
When Kyle's gone, I finish my third letter to Noah. The fourth I slip into his hand as he leaves school. The fifth is the one I take home with me, saving it for the next day.
Instinct and Proof
On the seventh day, I give him me.
I do this by going over and saying hi. I do this by dissolving the distance between us. I do this not knowing how he'll react. Perhaps this will be the one thing that I give to him that he returns.
I find him in the morning because I don't think I can wait until the afternoon. He hasn't even hit his locker yet—I wait for him on the school steps, the morning light still new. He sees me and I walk over. I hand him my fifth letter and say hello. The envelope is green. When he holds it up, it brings out the green of his eyes.
“Paul…” he begins.
“Noah…” I begin.
“I don't know what to say.” The tone of his voice is more I don't know what to say because I'm speechless instead of I don't know what to say because you're not going to like what I have to say. This is a good sign.
“You don't need to say anything.”
We sit down next to each other on the steps. Other kids walk into the school around us.
“Thanks for the letters. I re-read them all last night.”
I imagine him in his wonderful room. I'm glad my words have been there, even if I've been banished.
“I wanted to write you back,” he continues. “But then I decided to do something else instead.”
He pulls an envelope out of his bag and hands it to me. My hands are shaking a little when I open it. Inside I find four photographs. They are snapshots from our town, flashes from the night. Each one is a single word, but I am so familiar with the town that I can tell where they come from as well as what they say.
From the sign outside the Jewish Community Center: wish
From a Lotto advertisement outside the stationery store: you
From the inscription on the cemetery gates: were
And then, the last photo—Noah reflected in a mirror he's placed in his studio. One hand holds the camera to his eye. The other is holding a sheet of construction paper, with a single word written on it.
I look at these images and it's like they're the only thing I've ever wanted. How could he know that?
“Serendipity,” he says. “I was up all night developing. I took photos of a hundred words, and these were the ones I wanted. That's what my instinct told me.”
“And what's your instinct telling you to do now?” I ask him. I feel entirely undeserving.
There's a pause.
Then he says, “It's telling me to ask you to the dance on Saturday.”
I twinkle. “So what are you going to do?”
“Do you want to go with me to the dance on Saturday?”
“I'd love to. It's not that kind of dance—people don't have to ask dates or anything—but I would love to be your date anyway.”
I can't leave it at that. I have to add, “I'm sorry about everything.”
And he looks at me and says, “I know.”
“I've missed you so much,” I say, reaching up to touch his face.
He leans in and kisses me once. He says he's missed me, too.
I know this is right. I know he's not going to be amazing all the time, but there's more amazingness in him than in anyone else I've known. He makes me want to be amazing, too.
I float through the day. Of course everybody who helped me out over the past week wants to know how it ended up. All they need to do is take one look at me and they know.